First Week Roundup
So the first week of spring training has come and gone, and a lot already has happened. Here are the highlights from the week and what to look for next week:
For my first story I'm going begin in the AL East with the New York Yankees. The Yankees will have an interesting spring training this year because they're in the middle of a transition period, but still aiming to stay competitive. This has opened the door for guys like Bryan Mitchell, Chad Green, and Greg Bird to compete for starting spots on the big league club come April. Now this spring training will be especially interesting because of the amount of choices manager Joe Girardi, and GM Brian Cashman have. The Yankees will look for 2 starters to take the final 2 rotation spots, and through the first week all of the pitchers have pitched well enough to earn that spot. They'll also look for Gary Sanchez to return to his 2016 form at the plate, and although starting the spring rough, he looks like he's getting back on track. Greg Bird will also be a key component for the Yankees this spring, because after missing 2016 due to injury, Bird will once again be called upon to start at 1st base, at least until Tyler Austin returns from injury. The Yankees have a lot of very young, and very good options and within the first week of spring training games, everyone seems to be playing amazingly, so a choice for any of the positions up for grabs is not clear. The Yankees have also been watching in the later innings as well, watching their baby bombers. Guys like Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, and Justus Sheffield have created high expectations for the Yankees in the next few years. The phenomenal playing of both the big league guys competing for a spot on the major league club, and the baby bombers have gotten the Yankees off to a hot start and spring, and they'll look to carry that momentum come the start of the season.
The next story comes from across town, from Queens and the Mets. Coming into camp this year the Mets were excited to see their young, stud-filled rotation, but still have some questions. One of these questions were who's gonna play the outfield for the Mets? Yoenis Cespedes has a definite spot in left or center field, but the other 2 spots are up for grabs. The Mets have a good pool to pick from, including Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo. Now animosity is a long shot due to his lack of experience in the majors, but the other 4 are very possible options to start opening day. Now although it's only the first week of spring, one of the two spots may have been won, or is at least closer to being won. Michael Conforto has gotten off to a phenomenal start this spring, hitting .500 with 2 homers and 3 RBI's as of writing this. After having a sub-par 2016, Conforto will look to bounce back, and reclaim a starting spot. The 2 outfield spots are very much still up for grabs, but Conforto has taken an early lead among the Met's outfielders.
Now the third and final story I have comes from our nation's capital, in Washington DC. Coming into spring training the Nationals had one big question, Bryce Harper. After having an amazing 2015 season, winning the NL MVP award, Harper struggled. 2016 wasn't necessarily a bad year, but compared to his past seasons, the Nats had higher expectations for Harper. Coming into spring training the National's wanted to know what Bryce Harper they were going to get, 2015 MVP Harper, or 2016 sub-par Harper. Now that exhibition games have started, the Nationals have seen Harper, and so far he's starting to look like 2015 Harper. He has 3 hits in 7 at bats, with one home run, and 2 RBI's. Now this may not seem like much, and it is the only first week of spring, but he's gotten to a good start, and if he keeps it going, he can really boost this already talented Nationals team in 2017.
It's only the first week of exhibition games in spring training this year, but already it's been interesting. Now the stats I used to back up the players I talked about are only through the first week, but if they keep it up, I can definitely see their success for them. I know I only talked about 3 things from the week, and I know there was a lot more that happened, so I'd love to hear what you took away from the first week of exhibition games.